In Athens, rare snow blankets Acropolis, prevents vaccinations

ATHENS, Greece (AP) – Heavy snowfall blanketed Acropolis and other ancient monuments in Athens and the Greek capital on Tuesday suspended COVID-19 vaccinations as the weather froze many services across the country.

Temperatures in the southeast of the continent dropped with some relief from the winter weather in Western Europe, and winter storms also hit Turkey.

Snow in the city of Athens, with a population of over a million, shut down most public transport services, even in unusual circumstances, while scattered trees caused black stripes in some suburbs around the mountain.

Snow is common in the mountains of Greece and in the northern part of the country, but so rare in the capital. Some Athenians came out cautiously, snapping photos on the balconies and streets outside.

Snow fell in lockdowns in Athens and other parts of Greece to control the coronavirus infection. Schools and most stores are closed and residents must stay indoors during the night curfew.

Some kids left classes online on Tuesday to play in the snow. Adults also went out to play, some skiing for use on the hillsides of the capital. Sky one man on Pnyx hill, in central Athens, near Acropolis.

Norwegian Ambassador Freud Overland Andersen tweeted a video of him skiing on a hill in the suburbs of Philothi with his teenage daughter.

“Accepted the challenge,” he wrote, after a friend in Oslo challenged him to prove that skiing in Allens was indeed possible.

“During the lockdown, it was the best day ever in my home office fees,” the ambassador told the Associated Press. “Unfortunately, my skis hit harder instead, so I’ll do the waxing and prepare for next season.”

Outside the parliament building, orange snowplows cleared the snow and ice streets, while presidential guards, dressed in traditional plated kilts and pompom-tipped shoes, were given heavy woolen overcoats.

The cold snap, which has already caused snowfall in most parts of Europe, kept temperatures around freezing in Athens on Tuesday, but a sudden reversal was expected on Thursday with expectations of 14 degrees Celsius (57 degrees Fahrenheit). In neighboring Turkey, heavy snow and snowfall forced the closure of highways in northwestern Turkey. A report by the state-run Anadolu Agency said about 600 vehicles were trapped in a nine-kilometer (six-mile) bed of snow-covered roads, and another 800 vehicles were stranded elsewhere.

Parts of Greece’s main highways were also closed on Tuesday, and most ferry services to the islands were canceled, while flights from regional airports to Athens were disrupted.

Vasilis Wathraquinnis, a spokesman for the Greek Fire Service, said the service had received more than 600 calls for help in more Athens.

He told state TV, “The call primarily transports anxious trees and people stuck in their vehicles to a safe place, but also transports patients seeking treatment for kidney dialysis.”

“Vaccinations have been postponed, but we have helped transport doctors and medical staff where needed, and we have helped power technicians to damage electrical power in the area,” said Vath Throkoinis.

Electricity and water cuts were also reported in central Greece. Prime Minister Kriyakos Mitsotakis met with emergency response leaders to help residents in areas and villages cut off by snow.

“We clearly recommend that great care should be taken in all movements, all unnecessary movements should be avoided,” Mitsotakis said after the meeting, adding that the authorities were making every effort to keep roads open and restore power in areas without electricity.

He added, “I think we will all show patience because we have become an event that is truly unprecedented.” ___ Follow Becatoros at and Gatopoulos